The U.S. Court of Third Circuit has issued a published decision in favor of Sean Andrussier’s client Chal Kennedy, Jr., a state inmate in Pennsylvania whose federal habeas petition claimed that the Commonwealth violated his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial, based on the delay between his arrest in 2009 and his trial years later. The case is Kennedy v. Superintendent Dallas SCI, No. 21-1265 (3d Cir. Oct. 11, 2022).
The district court had ruled that Kennedy’s Sixth Amendment claim was procedurally defaulted on the basis that he failed to exhaust it in state court and also that the claim lacked merit. The Third Circuit appointed Andrussier to serve as Kennedy’s pro bono appellate counsel, an assignment that Andrussier accepted as the Director of Duke Law School’s Appellate Litigation Clinic. After briefing, the Third Circuit heard oral argument in Philadelphia in May. On October 11, 2022, in a precedential decision, the Third Circuit held that the Commonwealth waived its non-exhaustion defense and that Kennedy’s Sixth Amendment speedy trial right was violated. The Third Circuit thus reversed the district court and remanded “with instructions to grant the petition and order the petitioner’s release forthwith.”